The Dark Age of the Super Hero Slacker MMO Player

For a long time I have been concerned about how the focus of MMOs has changed from the community as a whole to the individual player. Practically every MMO quest these days focuses on the player as being the savior of the world.

Much of this change is due to what is going in single player video game design. MMO designers have been brought up in a video game culture where players are treated like heroes just for showing up. Load up any popular single player video game and it becomes readily apparent that players are no longer just players; instead they have been elevated to heroes.

Welcome to the Super Hero Culture

Our entertainment culture is currently inundated with super heroes. Not a month goes by without the release of yet another super hero movie. Perhaps the popularity of super hero movies suggests that people somehow need to live vicariously through the deeds of others.

The great American writer Henry David Thoreau said: “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Perhaps the invention of the super hero is a tonic that helps to ease that human pain of living a normal, uneventful life.

Blizzard’s False Hero

A few years ago with the release of Blizzard’s Wrath of the Lich King expansion for WoW and the first s0-called “hero class”, I contemplated the meaning of the word “hero” in various articles. I concluded that the attempt to bestow unearned hero status on undeserving players was ill-advised and stupid. But that doesn’t matter when your goal is to sell millions of copies by bribing players with instant hero status.

Video Game Heroism: A Spectacle of Sight and Sound

What prompted my recent pondering on how players are treated by MMO designers is a recent viewing of 38 Studios Kingdoms of Amalur a single player video game that serves as the pre-quel for the upcoming MMO by 38 Studios.

When a player engages in combat in the demo video below it’s a spectacle of sight and sound that one might see in a Vegas show. It reminds me of being at a KISS concert and watching Gene Simmons. In fact, KISS was considered the first super hero rock band.

A couple of years ago, I recall reading some of founder Curt Schilling’s comments on how he wanted players to feel like heroes in his MMO. For someone like Curt who played EverQuest religiously I was perplexed by his sentiments. At the time Curt was heavily into WoW and I believe he was influenced by the seductive Blizzard design ethos of WoW.

After watching that video of Kingdoms of Amalur it looks as if Curt has got his wish and more. If this single player game is any indication of what is to come, I’m starting to worry that players might be treated like gods in his MMO. (I used the “gods” term for a reason — WoW has often been characterized as the first true God of War MMO a very popular single player video game on the PlayStation).

The Age of the Pioneer MMO Player

There is something about a pioneer that I really respect and admire. True pioneers do things that people of today would balk at. It takes guts to leave the Old World and go to the New World. Guts that most people today haven’t a clue about. Those pioneers were real heroes.

And I ask you: how many true heroes actually wake up each day with the intention of being heroes? Zero.

In fact if you want to be a hero, I daresay there is probably something seriously wrong with your character.

Ask a real hero like recent Medal of Honor winner Sargent Giunta and they’ll tell you there were just doing their job. Every MMO developer should watch this 60 Minutes interview with this true hero and they may just gain some real perspective and realize how sophomoric their current MMO design model is.

There was a day when MMO players were not instant heroes.

When MMOs started back in 1998, people didn’t see themselves as heroes. Nor did they demand to be treated as such either. Contrast that with the spoiled and pampered player of today that demands a life of ease in their virtual world. Back then, players were all MMO pioneers, they were just happy and felt privileged to be in a fantasy virtual world.

An EverQuest Fan Speaks Wisely at the 2010 Fanfaire EverQuest Next Panel

Last year at the 2010 SOE Fanfaire, they hosted a special EverQuest Next Panel where they talked about the next installment of EverQuest. One questioner really hit it out of the park with his question to the panel which received a very lame and woefully inept response by the panel that was caught off guard. (Check out video 2 in this link).

I call this person the EQ Black Shirt guy. He’s the equivalent to the WoW Red Shirt guy that stumped the BlizzCon 2010 panel last year. Here’s what he said that really resonates with me:

EQ Black Shirt Guy: I’d just like to preface this by saying, I know it’s tough to succeed in the MMO industry because you just look at all the great titles released in the last year — most of them are just gone in a year. So I worry about EQ Next but I want it to succeed but this idea of a very powerful player – I think it flies in the face of the original “you’re in our world now” concept where the world is sort of harsher and larger than you, where you need to find friends and band together, work together to defeat things maybe you can’t take on by yourself.

EQ Black Shirt Guy: I understand it’s important to draw the player in with the feeling of personal power and accomplishment but I think you also need the difficulty and the depth that comes with not being powerful in comparison with the world around you.

I could not have put it better myself. I am proud of this guy and the legions of EverQuest veterans out there that are still the keepers of the flame. We remember what MMOs were and what they can truly be if their potential is even partially realized. To those MMO players that came after EverQuest, you need to show them some respect because they have experienced things you have no clue about.

Conclusion

The current player as super hero (and should be treated as such) syndrome is a result of a combination of factors. There’s the alpha male guild leaders that popularized the achievement on steroids archetypes. Add to that the rise of the story narrative single player video game. And finally the super hero effect is a reflection of our own culture where children and teens grow up spoiled by doting parents and end up with a sense of entitlement.

All three factors have created the perfect storm for where we are today in MMO design.

I have to wonder how long the age of the super hero slacker MMO player will last. At what point will players collectively shout “enough!” to the Christmas morning orgy of presents that every player somehow feels entitled to in their MMO. At what point will the current crop of spineless MMO developers develop some courage and start pushing the philosophical pendulum in the other direction.

The truth is that most players do want to earn their keep in a virtual world; they are tired of being bribed with false heroism and being richly rewarded for dubious achievements. They are sick of being coddled, pampered and treated like children. Like the EQ Black Shirt guy they understand that true satisfaction comes when you make friends and band together to defeat shared challenges.

Is this so hard to grasp MMO developers?

-Wolfshead

36 thoughts on “The Dark Age of the Super Hero Slacker MMO Player

  1. You are spot on with your criticism of the silly Superhero Slacker mentality that crept into games and MMOs in particular. Unfortunately that seems to be popular, just like there seems to be no end to Marvel Superhero movie adapations.

  2. I do think we all want to be adventurers and heroes in our MMOs, we want to be somebody who’s a little different, more epic maybe – that’s part of the great escapism MMOs can (used to) provide. However, there can be no heroism if everything comes for free or cheap, without challenges and struggles, without dragons to slay. So I think what you really mean to say is that instead of too many heroes, we actually got no real heroes anymore at all, because the “dragons” (obstacles and difficulties) were removed from the table to make room for goodfeel games with a lot of solo content and fast rewards. I certainly agree here and have written about this issue before.

    I have encountered a paradox on the topic of player power though: one one hand it seems to have increased enormously (think of the influence of the entitlement factor), on the other hand true player power inside MMOs is smaller than ever – you cannot shape anything, create or impact on the worlds you live in, you’re just the player by now. it is quite remarkable a dynamic and to me personally, proves once more that we are less gods than ever in these games, even though we get so much of the same so easily. maybe something to dwell on for you.

    • Well said! Actually I long for those days. I used to love creating a new character on a new server and start all over with nothing. The feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction that you get from being penniless (no twinking) is something that I have not experienced in a long while.

  3. The thing that makes heroes stand out in the real world is that not everyone around them is heroic. To paraphrase Pixar: When everyone’s a hero, no one is.

    What some folks really want is the *ability* to become a hero, under the premise that not everyone will be able to fulfill the criteria necessary to do so. Thus, they become rare and special flowers.

    In reality, it would be a very small audience willing to pay money to watch somebody else be a hero in a video game while they’re constantly the ordinary person.

    Need proof? Look at most any PvP MMO. You have wolves and sheep, and data shows that very few people will keep paying money to be a sheep forever.

    Now all that said, there are ways to make every player feel like a badass in an MMO without portraying them as the One Hero Who Will Fix Everything. I wholeheartedly agree that such a model, which works perfectly in single-player RPGs such as Reckoning, is ill-suited to an MMO. It rings false, and isn’t good storytelling.

    There are better ways to go about it.

    • What some folks really want is the *ability* to become a hero, under the premise that not everyone will be able to fulfill the criteria necessary to do so. Thus, they become rare and special flowers.

      I agree. People want the chance to self-actualize their avatars. Some call it being a “hero” others would define it differently.

      I think it’s important to let players mold and shape their own paths and destiny within a MMO. However, when a MMO is based on revealing a storyline via quest centric gameplay — that’s where you have a systemic problem because in that mode everyone is forced to be a hero as defined by the designer.

      I look at heroism a bit differently. I remember vividly some of my initial experiences in EverQuest. A complete stranger gave me a fine steel sword. This guy befriended me and ended up teaching me about how to play and survive in Norrath.

      To me, that guy was a real hero. He made a difference to my character and he impressed me with his selflessness. He also taught me the importance of camaraderie and friendship within a virtual world.

      Back then if Norrath was like Azeroth is today, that probably never would have happened because WoW is such a safe and idiot proof environment. Classes are vastly overpowered in WoW compared to the NPCs and world around them. Giving someone a better sword would have a marginal effect on the outcome of their experience with the result being no chance for friendship or need for player to player contact or cooperation.

      So for true heroism to happen you have to create the conditions in a world where real acts of heroism — call it kindess, selflessness, valor — can mean something and flourish. In other words, if we have virtual worlds that are so easy and have no challenge or conflict then people don’t really need heroes.

      That is the job of the MMO game designer: they should be creating worlds where there is a *need* for personal acts of heroism beyond scripted quest lines. Developers must resist the constant temptation to give into complaining players that demand everything be dumbed down lest they undermine everything that draws players to those worlds in the first place.

      I do have a lot of respect for MMO developers because they are responsible for making something far more complex and potentially rewarding than any single player video game.

      • This reminded me of my first week in Asheron’s Call. I was trying to get somewhere overland, but died multiple times (and in AC, dying was not fun). Then, in a town nearby where I died I asked if someone could help a newbie. One guy did, and we ended up friends. I joined a small and friendly monarchy led by his friend, and often chatted with them even outside the game, even sent a few e-mails.

        In addition to this act of kindness, he and other members helped me later when I had died in a very nasty spot (and it was either recover my body, or lose some of my most expensive gear). One time I remember in particular was a true Medal of Honor case. Our monarch, the most powerful guy we had, jumped into some kind of a insanely deadly pit, recovered my body and teleported out with only a small sliver of health remaining. From that day on, he was my hero.

        • I’d like to point out that heroic deed is something that has an extremely low chance of success, ultimate price for failure and yields no personal benefit outside the experience itself.

          So what do MMO developers mean when they say “we want players to feel heroic”? Blizzards developers have shown us they don’t really understand the concept in the first place, or the whole phrase was just marketing yabble with no real basis. Let’s hope other upcoming MMO’s dev teams are more educated.

  4. I don’t think there’s anything significantly wrong with the superhero escapism of games. …I just think it’s best suited for single player games. MMOs, to me, should be about living, dynamic worlds and the players who inhabit them, wielding the power to change those worlds. No real superheroes, just players living their lives with interesting tools in a fascinating setting.

  5. Time.

    It’s the main thing EQ required, little else. Having lots of time to waste on a computer game doesn’t warrant respect in the least. I’ve been there, I’ve done most of it (up to Plane of Time). It just required lots of people who had lots of free time.

    Oddly enough, most of the people I know who complain about new MMOs are the the ones that have little skill and loads of time.

    Not that I’m suggesting this is the case here, but one of my more vocal friends about the state of MMOs couldn’t handle the coordination required in a console game, but games with time sinks or overly complicated mechanics that boil down to spending time on something? He loves those…

    I don’t disagree that there is a ‘now generation’ but making stuff require more time, doesn’t really make it warrant more respect or all that more fun.

    BTW I agree that the flashy animations and effects really aren’t needed to make a character look heroic. It’s actually a big distraction and you miss out on the animations.

    • But isn’t “time” also true for ALL MMORPGs anyway? Pick any P2P MMORPG and you’ll find that “time” will make you stronger than your opponent. Whether by getting more Levels or getting more Skills or even Farming for more Gear. Time, time, time.. It wasn’t exclusive for EverQuest.

      So, let’s get to the subject. What you can do in this TIME is what matters. I don’t consider EverQuest a role model to be followed but I consider EverQuest to be something that should have been expanded upon. But all what we get now is a watered down, simplified version of EQ (WoW Clones). They’ve destroyed or trivialized or simplified a lot of game mechanics in EQ like Factions System, Languages, Traveling, Exploration, Freedom, Community Skills and the difficulty to achieve them.

      In WoW anyone can solo to max level. I know a 7 year old who was level 60 back when 60 was maximum level. If that 7 year old played EQ he would have never achieved it. Not because he didn’t have time but because the world was harsher, death penalty was more sever which mean you cannot indefinitely reach max level just because you’re mashing one button even if you die 10 times per hour. Also, at one point in EQ duoing, trioing or grouping would be the only way of meaningful progression. I’m not asking for an EQ steep XP curve that’s not what I want. What I want is to bring back the experience of the journey. If all what you do is Kill 10 X then go back and collect your XP from level 1 till 60, all ALONE. That’s a kind of game I don’t want to play. Even if it was optional it will destroy community in the game and we all played EQ and played WoW we all know the difference. If you haven’t played EQ, I guess you can only imagine?????

      When I played WoW I recognized the Blizzardish pattern of easy game play and now we all forgot how horrifying the world was in EverQuest and those Trains because you had to run for your life, there’s no Ghost Service with few copper as death penalty. In EQ death stings. We don’t want to be careless heroes where our skill and team work doesn’t matter because 500 mistakes in one dungeon doesn’t mean crap we can always re-do it without worries. 500 deaths in EQ will probably set you back to level 10.

      If they can’t expand upon EQ at least bring back all the philosophies and mechanics the game offered. I just can’t believe it’s been 7 years now after the mutation of EQ live and we still don’t see anyone trying (except for Brad’s Vanguard). I promised myself I will never play a game with an exclamation mark (or any sign at all) on any NPC directing me where to go doing these quests I’ve seen…… BAZILLIONS OF TIMES!!!

      • I’ll disagree. EQ was filled with timesinks and grinds. Sure, you didn’t have to play it that way (and I usually didn’t – I mostly hit dungeons with friends) but if you wanted to hit the level cap, you likely spent a lot of time doing so. If you wanted to raid you likely spent a lot of time camping things, getting gear, getting keys or completing bane weapons.

        Speaking of dungeons, that’s about the only thing I miss about EQ. They weren’t linear and could be tricky. They were rewarding as well. While people were outside in wide open areas grinding mobs, I was the type down in a dungeon with friends.

        • Every MMORPG has time sinks and grinds like WoW’s “reputation” grind or Quest Grinds or even Raid Grinds and for time sink if you mean slower game pace (mana/hp regeneration is slow for instance) then this time sink is also true for current MMROPGs it’s called “running” I’ve timed myself in my gaming sessions doing “Quests” I’ve realized that I spent 40% (not less) of my time just running from Quest Hub to Quest Hub, from Collecting 5 mushrooms to going back to the NPC to hand them in to take another quest to collect 5 oranges. All this time running, is an involuntary “time sink”. At least in EQ I decided to spend this time on something I wanted to do (camping something solo) in current MMORPG you are FORCED to Quest Grind and Run from point A, to B, to C…. Otherwise you will be penalized in comparison to the whole community XP, Money and Gear wise.
          But if you ask me the time sink of EverQuest while it was too much and needs to be tuned down was still the reason why we communicated together in group. The problem with WoW MMORPG model is that they went to the other extreme, NO down time. I think a healthy compromise would be an ideal for an MMORPG. MMORPG is not about combat and fighting, MMORPGs are about being in a living world with other people.

          The best part of EverQuest to me is looking at a level 60 and thinking “I would never be able to reach that far”. I remember the level curve was so hard that reaching level 60 was a silly goal. Instead we really really enjoyed the content we were in. There are many dungeons to be tackled in EQ, compare EQ classic content to any new game, EQ always have more content. Heck 13+ starting zones, if you like alts you will never get bored. I played WoW I hit level cap (back when it was at 60) I never felt that i’ve did something special. Everyone and their dog can do it. Whether soloing all the way or letting their cat play with the mouse. Because no matter how many times you died, you WILL get to the max level.

          It didn’t bother me that reaching max level was too hard and EverQuest didn’t make me feel it was essential and I had to race for it. If you choose to race, your call. However, you will not be hand held like in current MMORPG with quest after quest after quest…. You would be free to do your own challenges. You feel confident? Kill higher level monsters for faster XP, you think you can’t handle that? then kill easier monsters but slower XP. Want to crawl a dungeon? sure but you’re not forced to. Want to grind a spot? sure, but you’re not forced to. I’d pick an EQ grind ANYTIME OF DAY over Quest Grind. The last thing I want to do is running from point A to point B not because I Want to… No… it’s because an X in a GPS map tells me to. No More. No More.

  6. It seems like there are lot of ways to attack the “superhero slacker” problem:

    Is the problem that hero status is too easy to obtain, resulting in the “when everyone’s a hero, no one is” scenario? Potential solution: add new levels of heroism that are very difficult to achieve. Compare being a Jedi in Star Wars: Galaxies, pre-NGE vs. post-NGE. (Of course, what does “difficult” even mean for a given game — skill? organization? time investment?)

    Is the problem that the game itself shouldn’t be awarding hero status? Potential solution: remove things like titles, shiny mounts, and welfare epics. If you want respect from other players, you have to earn it directly through your interactions with other players.

    Is the problem that the moment-to-moment gameplay just makes players feel overpowered? Potential solution: make the entire game, including leveling, a significant challenge. (Or put big emphasis on PvP, where a player’s baseline status is by definition “average.”)

    Is it actually OK for everyone to be a hero if the gameplay involves acting like a hero, rather than killing 10 rats over and over?

  7. In the EverQuest Panel video one of the SOE representative said they “Quests” will be cinematic… Wow just wow.

    You know what’s the problem with SOE and why they failed so many times and they will continue to fail. Is the fact that they don’t understand that their games once were of a specific genres and they just keep pursuing the Mainstream Blizzard point of view just like what they did with StarWars Galaxy. They just want to copy everyone else around them for no good reason.

    When Sid Meier created Civilization on 1990 it was a turn based strategy game. Then Dune 2 came out and followed by WarCraft and Commander and Conquer which were all block busters main stream popular games. Did Sid jump the bandwagon like the clueless SOE lead designers and CEO?? No, Civilization remained a Turn Based Strategy Game because that’s what it is and that’s why people will buy it for its niche, yet appreciate, game approach. If he had jumped the bandwagon and made Civ a real time strategy game he’d be losing his CORE fans and will never really compete against Blizzard’s StarCraft or Microsoft Age of Empire or any other RTS out there.

    Same applies to Elder Scroll. It was an open world RPG experience in First Person for a long time and that’s what make it the game it is.

    Let’s examine EverQuest. EverQuest is a First Person Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game. With specific sets of game mechanics:

    1. Slow and Simplified yet strategic Combat
    2. Non Linear and non Quest Driven Content
    3. Harsh environment
    4. Player Community Skills (teleporting, rezzing..etc)
    5. First Person View
    6. Role Playing Intense (being a dark elf gives you a great privilege of being able to see things in dark while humans cannot) such game mechanics that supports such racial variations was clear in EQ.
    7. Faction System, No NPC Instance Traveling Service, The World is Big… and many more.

    Those people in SOE they just think EverQuest means the lore and that’s about it. They don’t understand they have a gem of a game with passionate fans all over the world and we’ve been complaining on forums and blogs that we’re longing for a real EverQuest. You think they’d listen? you think they’d understand? I think not. I think they will release another Quest Driven, 3rd Person, Simplified, Hand Holding, Instance Infested, Colorful, and shallow game experience. Then the title will flop and they’ll scratch their heads wondering what went wrong…. AGAIN.

    • See also: XCOM vs. X-Com.

      Weird things happen over time in any game development… and it’s only weirder when the game is “live” instead of a series like the Civ games. Sadly, money talks. “Classic” games are still great (I still prefer the very first X-Com over any of the other iterations, for example), but the market has moved on. That’s just what happens in a maturing market.

      Indies can sneak in and pick up the slack, but MMOs are notoriously expensive. Also notably, things like WURM Online and A Tale in the Desert exist, so it’s not like all MMOs are soulless monstrosities.

      As hard as it is sometimes to think about, old school MMO/MUD players aren’t the bulk of the market any more. That’s not to say that the old school can’t be served, and it’s annoying that few seem to care, it’s just that the mass market left the old school behind. That’s natural.

      • I don’t agree with the idea that there’s no market for “old school” games. I believe there are hundred of thousands of old school gamers waiting and hoping for a game with depth. Catering to the “ghost” so-called main stream audience was proven to be a mirage. Look at Warhammer, Age of Conan, and many others. They didn’t achieve to attract these millions. The average sub population for these games is even less than EverQuest in 1999!

        Just checking Project 1999 server and finding 700+ players at one time with 200+ in EC proves there are many of us out there. Notice that Project 1999 was never advertised and still the server is more busy than the heaviest server on any of those quote on quote “modern” MMORPG. Old School gaming has a big and vocal majority supporting it. It puzzles me how we’ve been ignored for this long.

        It’s true we’re no 1 million, we’re probably 500k. But when you cater to our gaming needs you’re going to retain all these 500k players instead of trying to fish for WoW’s 11 millions and get a sub 200k subs dead game like Warhammer and Age of Conan.

        • Oh, I agree, there *is* a market for “old school” games, it’s just a smaller one. I’m generally an old school gamer myself, and those are the kind of games I design, but I know enough about the market (I do work in games) to know a bit about the comparative sizes of the niches. Old schoolers are a minority, there’s no two ways about it. Big publishers swing for the fences and try to avoid the niches.

          • While this is true and no one can disagree with what you just said. We still feel frustrated because we’re talking about EverQuest here. Just like Civilization and Sid Merier’s decision to keep its Turn Based Nature because that’s what Civilization was all about. Just like Elder Scrolls being First Person and open ended. You don’t change the genre of your successful game just to pursue the mainstream. You lose your gem of a game. I personally believe EQ1 is far more popular than EQ2 and probably more profitable to SOE. So, catering to the main stream (EQ2) wasn’t a good idea.

            If we’re talking about any other IP then fine but since we’re talking about EverQuest which introduced the harsh death penalty, the dangerous world and freedom it gave its players. Go to youtube, forums and all the MMORPG blogs whenever you mention EQ you’d definitely see someone there longing for such a game like Classic EQ.

            SOE have the IP and they just don’t care for the core fans. They want NEW customers. They don’t care about us, EverQuest Players. They just care about Graphics and PhysX and have no solid philosophy or a vision of what EQ Next should be. If they would just do the right thing, like any other decent company would do.. by not switching audience for a specific brand.

            It’s like changing Chess and making it Real Time just because you want to attract all the new kids. It’s not chess anymore, is it?

    • Beautifully said! I’m afraid those folks on the EQ Next team don’t get it. It seems they are content to take us all down the same worn path as WoW.

      You are so right that EQ is so much more than the lore and the nostalgia. All of your bullet points are spot on!

      • I want to believe they are going to go back to the game’s “vision” and the game’s roots. But I don’t want to be disappointed again. It’s a shame to destroy a sub-genre of MMORPG (EQ) and then follow others footsteps. SOE created the MMORPG business model and their 3D world was the first world of that scale and lore. Why do they follow the footsteps of Blizzards and ignoring what made their game the game we all love. Are they THAT ignorant? Really? Weren’t they EverQuest player too?

  8. I wholeheartedly agree with this. Everyone who was a gamer in what I’d call pre-PS2 era must remember the wonderful feeling of achievement coming from succeeding in doing something difficult. Since then, the focus of most games of all platforms has changed to much more easily accessible casual games. There’s no problem with that – accessibility is extremely important. However, as is the constant rise of the challenge level, which is not observed in most current games, especially MMO’s.

    I love games, but I have all but given up them in the digital form. PnP RPGs, CCGs and tabletop war games still provide the excitement of actually being able to lose, without the frustration due to heavy gear-dependency that exists in most MMO PVP combat systems. Still, a computer (or a console) is easily a superior platform for gaming compared to the games I described above. A PC game is much cheaper for a player than Warhammer tabletop game, for example. Moreover, online playing, especially MMO, is something that would be impossible without computers. Therefore, I do keep my hopes up that at some time in the future the developers, and especially the publishers, will understand that in the long-term the current trend will lead the hardcore gamers away from AAA-games, back to the ruthless worlds of ADOM and Dwarf Fortress, where you don’t need special effect DINGs to know you have played well.

  9. “There is something about a pioneer that I really respect and admire. True pioneers do things that people of today would balk at. It takes guts to leave the Old World and go to the New World. Guts that most people today haven’t a clue about. Those pioneers were real heroes.”

    Well, that done be the pretty, romantic view of it. ‘Course, ain’t got diddly fer ta do with the realities. What them pioneers mainly had goin’ on were pathetically desperate existences in the Old World combined with dang near complete ignorance of how easy it were fer ta die of scurvy, among other things. Which be why they died like flies in the New World winters. Wouldn’t that make fer a fun MMO.

    • My point is that pioneers are risk takers at heart. Sure many of the people that came to America from the Old World died as they travelled across the continent.

      Many of the first MMO players were pioneers too. They took a bit of a risk and a gamble coming to a brand new genre. Back then nobody knew what to expect or how to play. They didn’t have the kind of powergamer/theorycrafting websites like Elitist Jerks to tell them exactly how to play.

      Pioneers are a special brand of people that had a tremendously positive impact on those early MMOs. Today we have the banality of WoW. Comparing EQ to WoW is like comparing the depth of experience one has at Outward Bound to Chuck E. Cheese.

  10. Convenience in MMORPGs is what bothers me. All the MMORPGs I played post 2003 felt “gamish” to me. They want you to “play the game” so they make everything convenient which completely destroys immersion, exploration and difficulty. From having exclamation mark on quest NPCs (and then hand holding you all the way), to making numbers flow out of your characters head, to making night not dark and there’s no vision reduction whatsoever and of course the horrid neon pink/green borders on everything just in case you’re blind you’d then still see them because these neon colors are so loud and ugly they depress me.

    How do you expect me to respect the world where numbers float around in different flashy colors (red, yellow, orange, pink, green). How do you expect me to be immersed when around every character I select a pink florescent border… just in case god forbid I forget which character I selected.

    There are too many aids and too many helping hands going on which make these games feel shallow. No challenge, no real content outside of scripted or quest driven content. The world lacks character, no Dvinn no Bosec and no random dangerous monsters roaming around. We’re never free to choose our destination instead we’re told to go to specific places and if we do we get a Purple item as a reward. Purple, Blue Green… even more colors.

    Look at any random WoW, Warhammer or Rift screenshot with the UI enabled and tell me if your eyes doesn’t bleed because of the excess use of colorful aids.

  11. Having my character survive through an EQ session felt heroic in itself. Helping a stranger retrieve his/her corpse in LGuk? Heroic. Heck, getting down to LGuk safely was ‘heroic” in itself.

    The small wins of “heroism” adds up to an overall feeling of being Heroic, not currently being told that I am supposed to be that way. You know, that whole risk v reward conundrum. :)

  12. What I want from an MMO is simple. I want a big dangerous world where I can have adventures with my friends and possibly make new friends along the way. I want a journey not a destination

    I cringe every-time I am referred to as hero in a mmo, and I can be beyond hero for the mere price of 15.00 a month I can be ascended or Daiva

    I want to be an adventurer…an explorer….is that so wrong? But I log in am immediately hailed as a god which means Jack and shit because there is a million more of me running around.

    I was truly hoping that 38 studios would finally give us a modern day EQ classic and I could once again return to a dangerous land where deeds and actions actually mattered.

    I will stay in EQ I guess because as nerfed as it has become it still the closest we are going to get.

    • What I want from an MMO is simple. I want a big dangerous world where I can have adventures with my friends and possibly make new friends along the way. I want a journey not a destination.

      Very well said! That is what many people want and even those that don’t know what they want, would want that if there was a MMO out there that let them experience that.

      I’m hoping Curt and the team at 38 Studios has the courage to give the world a serious alternative to the MMO by numbers design approach made popular by Blizzard. At least they have R.A. Salvatore on the executive team — that guy is the real deal and has a good grasp of why EQ was such an engaging and gripping virtual world.

      • Unfortunately, it won’t be the case for 38 studios but I could be wrong. I base my conclusion on my lurking experience in FOH forums where Ngruk (Curt’s username in the forum) posts about his new project Copernicus. While it’s true that his personal opinion does not equal what the lead designer of their MMORPG have in mind. But since I read ALL of that epic – almost 700 page – thread I can save myself the trouble and disappointment and say that Copernicus will not be the “savior” for us “old schoolers”.

        If Salvatore would be the lead game designer I bet you he’d make something like EverQuest (based on some old interview with him regarding his work with 38 studio). But reading Curt’s posts I can tell you that he almost always disagrees with what people like Wolfshead think is essential for an immersive game experience. Don’t quote me on this but I remember reading in that thread that he preferred his WoW experience over EQ (he was an EQ player and then moved to WoW). Which was a big shock for me.

        Below is the URL for that thread if anyone wants a long but interesting read!

        http://www.fohguild.org/forums/mmorpg-general-discussion/40053-38-studios-copernicus-mercury-other-stuff-681.html

        • While I appreciate Curt’s willingness to reach out to fans and discuss MMOs, I am a bit troubled that he routinely asks the arm chair clowns posing as game designers on the FoH forums for advice on various design matters. I suppose if Copernicus eventually fails he can always blame it on the uninformed advice he found on the FoH forums.

          The FoH forums is a good example of what is termed “groupthink” and it’s enforced by the small-minded, power hungry mods who still operate in the 1990’s IRC channel mentality of banning people who they disagree with. Anyone who dares to share an opinion that is in contrast to the consensus of the FoH forums hive mind is summarily humiliated, ostracized and then banned unless of course you are a celebrity that gets paid to throw baseballs.

          The sad thing is that many of the FoH posters still think they matter and desperately cling to the glory days of Alex “Furor” Afrasiabi’s bravado and “let’s stick it to the man” populism of yesteryear.

          At this point in the 5 year development history of the 38 Studios MMO — yes it’s been 5 years — I believe Curt just wants his MMO to make money and recoup his investment (which is understandable) and the best way to do that is to play it safe and be a follower of industry trends — not a leader.

          • It’s true FOH forums has a notorious reputation but you know I find a lot of posters there who disagreed with Curt (specially the last 5 pages of this thread from this day) and to be honest the opinions vary. A lot of people are in disgust of the current MMRPG business model and want a change. Many demanding for an immersive dangerous world (where you are not told to be a hero).

            I’ve heard a lot about Furor he doesn’t post there now anymore does he? Was he the EQ die-hard raider hired by Blizzard for World of Warcraft Raid Content Design or am I confusing him with someone else?

  13. I think the concept of people pursuing heroism and the hero’s journey in general has merit – even in the context of an MMO.

    But the problem is MMO designers – at least the WoW-style ones – are not using the term heroic properly. What they are really trying to let players feel is Godlike. They are focusing on the sheer powerful feeling they want to impart. That’s not inherently bad either, but it is a far cry from heroic.

    Heroic is more like some of the examples people have given in this discussion – examples of people helping them out by doing something daring or self sacrificing. That’s heroic.

    Giving people the opportunity to be heroes is awesome. But that means letting them have the ability to help others or make sacrifices that help others.

    Bind on pickup gear, the removal of meaningful death penalties, antagonistic loot systems where people fight for gear, and total lack of challenge have eliminated the concept of heroism. Everyone is in it for themselves, because that’s the only way the game really lets you play.

    You can’t save people. You can rarely even help people. Its quite disturbing.

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